First Full Day aboard the Evolution

Sunday, June 19, 2022

On Saturday we boarded our expedition yacht, called the Evolution. It is an absolutely beautiful yacht — it actually looks a bit like a pirate ship from a distance, but once you are on board it is quite warm and welcoming, with gorgeous polished pine wood, cozy deck furniture — lots of space on the decks to relax and take in the views.

We met our fellow passengers and guides — Bollo, Cristina and Hernan. There are mostly families in our group of 32 — and three of the other families have young kids (there are three 8-9-year old boys, a set of 12-year old girl twins, and another 12-year old girl). Seems like a great crew to spend the week with!

After cruising all night, we woke up in a lovely cove framed by a small island. The island – with its mix of various colored rock, topped with small green plants, set against the dark turquoise green water – was quite striking. We started the day with a panga (small motorized raft) ride around the coastline of Isabela Island.

The first spotting from the panga was the fin of a mola fish – a very large (6 ft +?) pancake-thin fish that almost looks like a manta ray swimming on its side. After that we saw loads of green sea turtles, lots of sea lions in the water, fur seals on the rocks, and a troop of at least 10 Galapagos penguins swimming alongside the panga and hunting for fish.

Sea Turtle in the water – we snorkeled with so many!

I loved the penguins – they are so much smaller than the other penguins I’ve seen, and so fast in the water.

Galapagos penguins swimming right alongside the panga

In the air and perched on the rocks, we saw Nasca boobies and blue-footed boobies, along with lots of pelicans. The blue-footed boobies are incredible how they dive – from at least 50 feet high, straight down to the water like a kamikaze fighter. There were also brilliantly colored crabs all over the rocky coastline.

Late morning we went for our first snorkel – we wore full length wet suits AND hoods, but it was still SO cold. Yikes – the water must have been warmer when I came 20+ years ago, or else I truly have gotten softer. Or likely both! I think I only lasted about 20 minutes in the water, and then Cassidy and I both got cold and went back to the panga. But it was super cool snorkeling with so many sea turtles, and we also saw puffer fish, parrot fish, I think some angel fish, scorpion fish…not sure what else. Those who continued snorkeling got to see marine iguanas and sea lions swimming underwater as well.

After snorkeling we had a lovely dip in the hot tub on board – boy did that feel good after being so cold! We have really enjoyed chatting with the other passengers and especially getting to know those in our group – we are the Dolphin group, and we are with a family of 4 from San Diego (daughter who just finished NYU, son is about to start college), and a family of 3 from Portland (9-year old boy named Zane who is a total character.) They are all super nice and seem game for anything. I was actually really impressed by the fact that I think all 32 passengers about the Evolution went snorkeling in the freezing cold water, and most actually seemed to last quite a bit longer than I did…

I think my favorite part of the day might have been our late afternoon walk on Fernandina island, which is apparently the youngest of the Galapagos Islands. It was so peaceful to be there with sunset approaching, and the temperature was perfect – not too hot, not too cold. We saw tons of marine iguanas, lots of colorful crabs, and some really playful sea lions.

Loads of marine iguanas on the volcanic rock
Sea Lion performing for us in the cove

The highlight was seeing a 1-day old baby sea lion sleeping next to its mama on the shoreline. It was absolutely adorable – hope some of our photos turned out well for Sierra’s friend Annie, who is really into seals and sea lions.

Mother and 2-day old baby sea lion

The weather cooperated really well on our first day – it was super windy at breakfast, but calmed down in time for our panga ride, and then the sun came out for the snorkeling. By the time of our late afternoon walk, it was calm, but not too hot at all, given some clouds and a slight breeze. The early evening light was absolutely gorgeous as we rode the panga back to the Evolution.

Cassidy and Zane on the Panga, Evolution in the background

It is definitely cooler here than I remember it being on my last trip. We have actually been wearing long pants and jackets in the mornings and evenings, and as I type this on the back deck, I am wearing my hoodie due to the wind.

All that to say, it might be a bit cooler than I would like, but for Noah and the girls it is perfect – low to mid 70s, though feels much hotter in the sun (if no wind) and of course much cooler when the breeze picks up. The water temperature is downright chilly at XX degrees. Makes me long to snorkel next in a truly tropical, bathwater-type destination!

-Linda

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